• 09 November
  • 19:45
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Croatia – Greece (World Cup 2018)

Croatia and Greece face each other this Thursday night at the Stadion Maksimir, in Zagreb, in a match for the first leg of the World Cup 2018 play-off. The Croats saw the qualification to Russia in 2018 be denied by Iceland and are now aiming to redeem themselves here, fighting for what may be their second consecutive qualification to a World Cup. Greece, on their turn, finished the group stage behind Belgium, and if they are successful in this play-off, it will be their third consecutive World Cup.

Croatia come here after being unable of achieving more than the 2nd place in Group I with 20 points, 2 points behind leaders Iceland, result of 7 wins, 1 draw and 2 defeats, with 16 goals scored and 7 goals conceded. The Vatreni do not have many appearances in Wold Cups and have only stood out in 1998, where they reached the semi-finals. Since then they have only appeared in the 2002, 2006 and 2014 World Cups without ever being able to go beyond the group stages. The Croats are a very strong side when they play in home soil, not losing at home since October 2013, and they have also kept clean sheets in four of their last six home World Cup qualifiers.

In addition, this is a national team that has some players who represent some of the best football teams in Europe. The Croatian goal is well protected, with Subasic as the main keeper, a defensive sector with Vrsaljko, Lovren and Vida, a very talented midfield with Modric, Rakitic, Brozovic and Perisic, and strikers like Kalinic, Kramaric and Mandzukic. The quality in this national team is undoubtedly huge, but the Vatreni seem to have some difficulty in imposing all their talent on the pitch, having added some disappointing results in the group stage.

In their last 5 official games, Croatia has a record of 2 victories, 1 draw and 2 defeats. This sequence of results started with a 1-0 defeat against Iceland. This result was followed by a 1-0 victory against Kosovo, a 1-0 defeat against Turkey, a 1-1 draw against Finland, and in their last match, a 0-2 defeat against Ukraine.

Probable Lineup: Subasic – Vrsaljko, Vida, Lovren and Strinic – Rakitic and Modric – Brozovic, Kramaric and Perisic – Mandzukic.

World Cup 2018Greece, on their turn, ended as 2nd placed in Group H with 19 points, result of 5 wins, 4 draws and 1 defeat, with 17 goals scored and 6 goals conceded. The Greeks have a very little history in World Cups, having only appeared in the 1994, 2010 and 2014 World Cups, and it was only 2014 that they were able of going further than the group stages, achieving the round of 16 but were eliminated by Costa Rica.

The Greek national team are not as talented as the Croatians, but they still have some very well-known players, such as the keeper Karnezis, the defenders Sokratis, Papadopoulos, Manolas and Torosidis, midfielders like Fortounis, Samaris and Tachtsidis, and the striker Mitroglou. It is important to note that Greece are unbeaten in their last seven away matches and have won five of those. In fact, they have only lost one of their last 13 World Cup qualifiers on the road. The Greeks face a very difficult trip to Croatia, but they have already shown that they are also dangerous as visitors.

In their last 5 official matches, Greece has a record of 2 victories, 2 draws and 1 defeat. This sequence of results started with a 0-0 draw against Bosnia and Herzegovina. This result was followed by a 0-0 draw against Estonia, a 1-2 defeat against Belgium, a 1-2 victory against Cyprus, and in their last match, a 4-0 victory against Gibraltar.

Probable Lineup: Karnezis – Torosidis, Sokratis, Papadopoulos and Tzavellas – Zeca, Samaris, Tziolis and Stafyldis – Fortounis – Mitroglou.

Greece won 1 of the last 3 direct clashes since the start of the millennium, drawing the remaining 2.

Euro 2012 (Q)
Euro 2012 (Q)
Friendly Match 2001

Croatia will be the heavy favorites on paper, but this will be a much tougher game than it seems. Still, the Croatian main goal will be to get a comfortable result to reach the second leg in an advantage, while Greece will try to keep the home team away from their goal, leading the tie-breaker to their own ground. Expect a game dominated by the Croatians, with Greece adopting a more defensive posture. Although a home win is expected, there should not be many goals.

Betting Preview Odd Bookmaker Error
Under 2.5 Goals 1.62 Bet365
  • Country: Croatia
  • Stadium:
  • City: Zagreb
  • Establishment: 1912

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  • Country: Greece
  • Stadium:
  • City: Atenas
  • Establishment: 1906

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Fábio Mota
  • Predictions made 174
  • Average Odds used 1.76
  • Predictions right 99
  • Predictions wrong 65
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